THE IRA USED the boom to buy properties in Dublin, London and Spain in an attempt to move from racketeering towards “respectable” business ventures, according to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks.
The Guardian reports that the cable, written by Jonathan Benton who was then the deputy-chief of the American embassy in Dublin, detailed how a senior member of the gardaí had said that IRA money was “constantly moving, flowing from diversified sources into wide-ranging investments”.
The cable went on to say:
While the IRA had been proficient in smuggling, robbery, and racketeering since the 1970s, the Celtic Tiger economic boom of the 1990s had prompted the IRA to diversify into more sophisticated business enterprises.
IRA investments now included real estate ventures in Dublin, London, and Spanish resort areas, handled by apparently respectable businessmen.
The money gleaned from such ventures was believed to be used to support Sinn Féin. The cables continued:
Irish officials, more generally, remain concerned that IRA funds acquired through sophisticated investments are seeping into resources available for Sinn Féin’s political activities in the Republic of Ireland.
Sinn Féin have dismissed the suggestions, labelling them “complete nonsense”. A spokesperson for Sinn Féin added that it was the only party make its accounts public “before legislation was passed requiring others to do that”.
Meanwhile, another cable sent by the ambassador to Dublin James C Kenny in February 2005 suggests that the Irish government had “rock solid evidence” that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were members of the IRA command.
Questions about Sinn Féin’s commitment to the peace process were also raised in the cables, which cited Bertie Ahern’s belief that both Adams and McGuinness had full knowledge of the IRA’s planned heist of Northern Bank despite being engaged in peace talks. The 2004 robbery, which saw the IRA steal £26.5m, was the largest in the group’s history.
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